Stop Beating Yourself Up (it’s annoying)

Self-loathing: I don’t really see the point of it. Sure, I understand why we do it from time to time (some of us, all the time) but, for the most part, it serves no positive purpose. It’s a total waste of time and energy; a toxic habit. It’s also a terrible mental and emotional investment. And, an unnecessary one. Nonetheless, many of us seem to be very committed to it.

“Hey, you look great.”
“Thanks but you’re just being nice.”

“Wow, how did that happen?”
“I’m an idiot; that’s how.”

If anything, all self-loathing creates is a deeper and deeper hole that becomes increasingly harder to climb out of, not only for the self-loather, but also for anyone in his or her orbit. And sadly, the further we dig ourselves into our self-loathing hole, the darker our world becomes. And in case you didn’t know, hanging out with a self-loather is about as much fun as a migraine. Exhausting and painful.

A Bad Habit

When I talk about self-loathing here, I’m talking about the habit many of us have of constantly talking ourselves down; like we’re worthless, ugly, stupid (feel free to insert your own adjective at this point), not-good-enough pieces of dirt. You know; that habit. And if we’re not careful, over time we’ll eventually over-analyse, over-think and over-react ourselves all the way to disconnection, dysfunction and misery. And who wants to visit that place, let-alone live there?

As I’ve shared many times before, we all exist in a three-dimensional world (on a practical level) but where we do most of our living is in our thoughts. Healthier thoughts produce healthier decisions, behaviours and outcomes. And ultimately, healthier people.

Acknowledge your self-loathing thoughts for what they are (unhealthy internal dialogue) and recognise that they are not you and you are not them. Thoughts are nothing more than meaningless and powerless theories until you give them meaning and power. Until you breathe life into them.

No, you are not your thoughts.

Self-Loathing Vs Self-Awareness

Of course, there is a big difference between the destructive habit of self-loathing and the productive habit of consciously, intelligently and methodically taking a personal development journey. Being aware of our faults and shortcomings is not the same as constantly beating ourselves up or obsessing about them. Neither is it the same as creating problems out of thin air. Neither is it the same as turning minor shortcomings into major flaws (in our minds). Which we do also.

Just ask the attractive girl who has the “enormous, hideous nose”.

Wanting to learn, grow and become a new-and-improved version of you (for want of a better term) in a healthy and intelligent manner is at the opposite end of the scale to self-loathing. One is constructive. The other, destructive.

Self-awareness: Good.
Self-loathing: Bad.

I’ve never met a person who has not experienced the “I’m not good enough” feeling at some stage of their journey and naturally, I have felt it many times. It’s called being human and it’s okay. What’s not okay is for those feelings to destroy your potential, your plans, your happiness or your future. What’s not okay is for those feelings to hijack your cerebral landscape. What’s not okay is for those feelings to determine your decisions, your behaviours or your reality. Even in the middle of my (relative) success, I often have feelings of inadequacy. Still. Fortunately for me, I recognise those feelings for what they are not: me.

In case you haven’t been told lately, I’ll tell you now: you’re good enough.

Really. :)

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Gayle October 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Thanks.

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Em October 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Wow. I needed that. I haven’t checked this website in a long time but I’m glad I did today. I have been stuck in my own very negative thoughts so much so that their power has crippled me. I have been wasting my annual leave doing nothing on our renovation (the very reason for taking leave). I forget that I am not my thoughts. It is draining, dispiriting and incredibly depressing believing I’m not good enough. I had never considered that others felt not good enough, I thought it was just me. It was a bit of a revelation that you too Craig have had this thought (on occasion). The difference is, you move on. No, I haven’t been told lately, so thank you for letting me know I am good enough.

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Suu October 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Em, I loved reading your inspiring post. Well done on positive thinking.
Suu

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Suu October 17, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Positive thinking is one of the best keys to a happy life (IMO :) ).
Finding that an outcome hasn’t worked as well as expected (weightloss, job promotion, plans gone up in smoke) can be liberating if we look for the good in whatever it is.
Eg: Negative could be ‘My house burnt down’ – Positive could be ‘At lease I’m still alive’
Neg could be ‘I blew my diet. I may as well give up now. Pass me the cheesecake.’ Pos could be ‘If I start again right this second instead of waiting till tomorrow then I can learn from it and put it in the past where it belongs’.
I love this lesson!

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d October 18, 2012 at 1:54 am

What’s not okay is for those feelings to hijack your cerebral landscape.– I really like this sentence :)
I once asked a coworker (who had horrible self-esteem, despite being a truly intelligent, attractive, sweet and caring person) to say, “I am worthy.” She couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.

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Kelly October 18, 2012 at 6:34 am

Thanks mate. This one is a keeper.

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Helen October 18, 2012 at 6:41 am

Awesome post thanks Craig.

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Gennie October 18, 2012 at 10:13 am

I really needed this today. I am sick of worrying/thinking about how I look, my weight etc I eat really well, train really hard and everyone thinks I look great, not me. I am going to make a conscious effort to stop worrying/obsessing about it, life is too short and I’m sure it is annoying to everyone around me. I’m fit and healthy and you can’t ask for more than that.

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Aletia October 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

Easier said than done . What are constructive ways to stop this Craig ?

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Trolley Wife October 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm

So very true Craig, however I can see Aletia’s point here. The how is vital. Maybe we can all share HOW we stop self loathing and in particular cope or reduce feelings of inadequacy. Mine have stopped me sometimes from doing great things, other times not. I can occasionally get caught up in when mean people are mean in a work capacity, hurts my self exteem. WT fruitingle.

Anyway below is what I try to do and it works a treat when I can manage it.

I monitor what I am thinking, trying to catch the negatives before they have time to become entrenched. Our mind is a creature of habit. I then try to think positive thoughts almost over the top of the neg ones. I take action to get rid of the negative ones.

HOW?
1. I focus on what I can do right not wrong.
2. affirmations work, I swear. I repeat nice stuff to myself
3. remind myself that the negative thought I am thinking is “only a negative thought.” If we stop letting it penetrate by really, with effort, focusing on the good stuff, it has less power. (and trust me sometimes I give the dratted neg thoughts too much power) .
Have a great day all.

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Anonymous October 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I have given your wise words some thought. Yes I may overthink or as I prefer to call it micro focus. I do like to crawl into my little black hole and give the brain a rest from time to time – it is nice and dark and quiet down there but you do cramp up if you stay too long.
Overall I like to balance the positives with the negatives. I know very well where I am hopelessly inadequate, a klutz or incredibly stupid but conversely the stuff I am good with is just a given.
Extremes are draining – overly hyped up enthusiasm gives me headaches as well. I have often wondered which I prefer the depressive or the hypermanic states and have decided the former is less exhausting overall.

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Anon October 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Took me a long to know and get the strenth and Thanks for telling me I am good enough….

What works for me – Do’s and Don’ts

Do:
Ask if something is wrong.
Express concern.
Listen and validate.
Offer help.
Support my decisions.

Don’t:
Wait for me to come to you.
Judge or blame.
Put pressure on me.
Give advice.
Place conditions on support.

And one day at a time ‘just works’… Love reading your posts and you too Suu xx

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Michael October 18, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Whilst I totally agree with the article, it is not always that easy when one has depression.

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Mary October 18, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I have just been told in a Performance Review at work that I am very self aware but damn I still need to fix the things that I know that I don’t do as well as some things haha – menopause and mood swings is a bitch but I will learn how to control it eventually!!! I know it sounds corny but I do try to tell myself at least one thing that I appreciate about myself before going to sleep each day. I do still find it difficult to accept a compliment though – but then again I am only 50 and have enough time to teach myself that skill too. Thanks once again for your words of wisdom – I think you are good enough too!!!

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Sach October 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Hi craig,

Great article, something i have serious problems with and am trying to address. I always find it facinating when you hear someone that you think has it all together admit that they have the same fears and doubts as you.

Thanks

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